The 50 Greatest A24 Films (10-1)

There’s no denying the magic cinema holds (one of its pioneers was a magician after all) but one of the seldom discussed spells it weaves on an audience is that of the logo. it’s the first thing an audience sees and depending on the quality of the films that the studio releases, the happier they are every time they see them. Children of all ages respond to Disney and Pixar, old-school horror fans love Hammer and Universal and everyone recognizes the famous lion roar of MGM. Miramax conjures images of ’90s indie films, New Line Cinema is closely associated with The Nightmare on Elm Street series and few things are as nostalgic for some moviegoers as Orion and Cannon. A logo is that studio’s seal of quality. As long as they produce quality films, seeing that logo pop up should tell the audience that they’re in good hands. Since its inception in 2012, A24 set out to be the ultimate seal of quality. Whether it’s producing or distributing, It has become a frequent destination for some of the biggest names in the business. It’s no exaggeration to say that in the eleven years, they’ve been around, they’ve consistently proven themselves to be every bit the equal of their competitors. Seeing the A24 logo pop up in front of a movie is the surest sign that movie will be great.

These are the 50 Greatest A24 Films.

10. Uncut Gems (2019)

Nobody does panic attack inducing tension better than the Safdie Brothers. According to Hitchcock, the difference between suspense and shock is letting the audience know beforehand that there’s a bomb in the room instead of just exploding it. If you have a scene that involves two people chatting in a diner for a couple minutes and then it just suddenly explodes, you got a shocking scene that lasts five seconds but if you take that same scene and pan down to reveal that there’s a bomb under their table, you got nail-biting suspense that lasts the entire scene. The Safdie Brothers films are nothing but bombs under tables. But the way they reveal bombs isn’t by panning down but by having their leads make increasingly terrible decisions throughout.

Uncut Gems starts with a ticking clock of dread and then escalates from there. It isn’t a slow build up of tension. The main character (Adam Sandler in a career best performance) is fucked from the first frame and his situation somehow only gets worse from there. It’s like watching a crack head tie his own noose as quickly as possible. It’s unbearable and frankly, sometimes too hard to watch. This film is more frenetic and anxiety inducing than Climax and that’s a cinematic acid trip. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo may have used the tagline first but this is the feel bad film of the decade.

Sailor Monsoon

9. The Witch (2015)

There’s a lot of debate over what Director Robert Eggers’ top movie is— he has two A24 films under his belt in The Witch and The Lighthouse. For me, it’s The Witch by a landslide. Eggers has said he crafted the story out of real Puritan folk tales and let me tell you, the result is some disturbing stuff. Anya-Taylor Joy experienced her breakthrough in this film as Thomasin as she watches a “witch” beset upon her family. The dedication to authenticity gives this film a real credibility, to the point where you can hardly understand the dialogue under the heavy accents and outdated language. Borrowing from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a haunting chorus fills the scenes with an overwhelming sense of dread, and Black Phillip remains one of A24’s most iconic characters.

Jacob Holmes

8. Eighth Grade (2018)

I won’t lie. Watching Eighth Grade was painful for me. I cringed a lot. Not because I thought it was a bad movie, but because it was so damn relatable. Kayla’s desire to be seen while dealing with anxiety speaks to everyone who is currently a teenager and used to be a teenager – sadly, it doesn’t really ever go away either. I thank the gods every day I experienced junior high and high school before the age of YouTube and social media because I think it has only added to the pressures of being a kid and trying to fit in and belong somewhere. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is really a marvel. Being able to convey adolescence in a genuine way is a rare thing, but he manages it both on paper and behind the camera. But the movie really works for me because of the fantastic performance by Elsie Fisher as Kayla. She’s natural and genuinely felt like someone I could have grown up next door to. Eighth Grade is a brilliant coming-of-age film and by far one of A24’S absolute best.

Romona Comet

7. Good Time (2017)

With a handful of critically acclaimed shorts, a well received documentary and four excellent films under their belt, the Safdie Bros have proven without a shadow of a doubt, they are the future of cinema. While everyone else is obsessed with recreating nostalgia, these two are focused on manufacturing calamity. The duo don’t make films, they make panic attacks. They are so good at cultivating tension, they’ve turned it into an art form. Every element of their films, Good Time especially, is designed to give you whiplash.

The film, about a dumbfuck bank robber (an unrecognizable Robert Pattinson) who needs to earn money as quickly as possible in order to bail out his developmentally disabled brother from jail before he gets himself killed, is a ticking clock of dread. It starts at 100 and then escalates from there. You know from the first frame, the film’s title is a goddamn lie. It’s like watching a crack head tie his own noose as quickly as possible. It’s unbearable tense and frankly, sometimes too hard to watch. With its in your face cinematography by Sean Price Williams, a throbbing score by Daniel Lopatin and manic scripts written by the brothers themselves, Good Time is Martin Scorsese on speed.

Sailor Monsoon

6. Hereditary (2018)

Some horror films live and die by their premises. They ask an audience to believe a guy can kill you in your sleep or that a little boy can see ghosts. Some horror films live and die by their villains, others by how much sex and violence they promise and a select few live and die by the performances. While Aster crafted a horror film so head and shoulders above the majority of its respected genre, critics referred to it as “elevated horror,” the film, as good as it is, is only as strong as its performances. Hereditary would not have worked if the lead was weak. The character of Annie needed an actress who could run the full gamut of emotions, who could inspire sympathy and disgust in the audience. You needed to believe her but there also needed to be doubt. Is she crazy or is something malicious happening to her family? Hereditary is a perfect example of a film being completely dependant on the strength of the central character and Toni Collette knocks it out of the park. She turns what could’ve easily been a standard issue possession story into a meditation on grief, loss and mental health. Her performance adds layers of complexity to the film. It’s one of the best performances in any horror film to date. It just happens to also be one of the best horror films ever made.

Sailor Monsoon

5. Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin will transport you into the cities and hills of Scotland, where you experience bleak weather, the mundanity of human existence, and a bewitching alien played by Scarlett Johansson. What makes the experience surreal is the fact that to me (someone living in the UK), it felt as realistic as a film could, when portraying an alien walking the streets and observing human life. There is something hypnotic about the entire production and overall, It’s a mesmerizing experience. Open to multiple interpretations, Under the Skin warrants repeat viewings and analysis. 

Lee McCutcheon

4. Lady Bird (2017)

I could probably write a dozen paragraphs about how much I loved this movie, so I’ll try to keep it short and to the point. Lady Bird has some of the most relatable, realistic portrayals of teenagers I’ve seen on screen. Instead of abs, we get acne. Lady Bird isn’t caught up in some ridiculous grand romance designed to change her life. She crushes on two very different boys and experiences believable disappointment with both. But at the film’s core is the turbulent relationship between Lady Bird and her mother. They’re constantly at odds with one another. Lady Bird can be stubborn and selfish, while Marion is unyielding and judgmental. I never got the sense of “this would never happen” while watching this movie. Instead, I was able to watch and relate to it both as a mother and as someone who was once 16 years old, frequently desiring all the things I was never given. Lady Bird is a hilarious and poignant coming-of-age story that really had me feeling so many emotions and it cemented Greta Gerwig as a director I plan to follow indefinitely.

Romona Comet

3. Ex Machina (2014)

One of my favorite movies of all time, Ex Machina is a stripped-down sci-fi feast that engages the mind over the eye. Yes, Ava the AI creation of Nathan is technically stunning, but there are no big science fiction set pieces here. Just a couple of men and a robot women in a remote house discussing what it means to be human. Oscar Isaac absolutely crushes it in this movie as an Elon Musk type, a genius billionaire tech mogul who walks around his cozy mansion in an undershirt and sweatpants and chides scientific jargon. Opposite Issac, Domnhall Gleason  (Caleb) plays his role to perfection as the lens for the audience to experience this amazing opportunity, to help a genius test his latest AI creation. And then you have Alicia Vikander, who really is the crux of this film: if Ava doesn’t work, the movie falls apart. These three characters are practically the only three characters in the film, which could easily be adapted for the stage. But every piece of dialogue is thrilling, the body language captivating, the implications continuing to build tension as Caleb begins to realize, with Ava’s help, that there’s more to this experiment than meets the eye. It grips me every single time I watch it.

Jacob Holmes

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

A24 was already well established heading into 2022, carving out a role as a film distributor/studio with a penchant for curating engaging and original indie films. But the company absolutely exploded in 2022 with huge critical and box office successes, none bigger in either category than Everything Everywhere All at Once. For many, the Daniels directing duo of Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan broke the code with this movie, giving audiences not just one of the best movies of the year, but of all time. This movie is huge in scope, spanning the multiverse, and yet personal and intimate in its implications. Every single member of the ensemble shines. Michelle Yeoh is everything as Evelyn Wang, a Chinese immigrant struggling to manage her family and laundromat and wondering whether her life could be different. Ke Huy Quan is terrific bouncing back and forth between a gentle and bumbling version of Waymond, Evelyn’s husband, and a commanding and skilled fighter Alpha-Waymond. Stephanie Hsu gives an affecting performance as Evelyn’s gay daughter Joy, as well as an absolutely iconic turn as the “villain” Jobu Topaki. And we still haven’t even mentioned Jamie Lee Curtis as— I kid you not— Dierdre Beaubeirdre, the IRS agent turned villainous multiverses assistant. 

Jacob Holmes

1. Moonlight (2016)

Since almost no one saw his first film Medicine for Melancholy, everyone naturally assumed Moonlight was Barry Jenkins’ debut and while that’s certainly not the case, it might as well be. I can’t speak to the quality of Melancholy but since I hadn’t heard of it before Moonlight, I feel safe assuming that it’s not as good or at the very least, not as important. As loud an announcement of a new voice to cinema and as game changing as The Sixth Sense (another film people forget isn’t a debut), Moonlight is a profound, tender, sympathetic look at a man finally coming to terms with who he is.

It’s a film that accurately portrays as well as celebrates what it means to be African American and the hardships that come with being homosexual. The film follows the same character at three different points in his life by three different actors. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes all give amazing performances but the true stand out is Mahershala Ali as his neighborhood drug dealer cum father figure. He doesn’t have much screen time but that Oscar was well earned. It introduced the world to several new acting talents and marked the arrival of an important voice in film.

Sailor Monsoon

20-11 | Rewatch?

What are some of your favorite films released by A24? Maybe they’ll show up later in the list!